15 June 2017 Knightwood Oak

Adders at the Reptillary
Mike and Mary Mawdsley led the group of 14 people and set off from the Knightwood Oak car park. The initial footpath was strewn with old and decaying trees, a hollow tree revealed fine examples of Ganoderma fungi. The path fell to a small pond, where numerous tiny frogs were identified, along with water plants including Lesser Spearwort. We next passed a huge Southern Wood Ant nest, which had ants right across the path.

We headed then down to the Reptillary (aka Reptile Centre), where all the reptiles were basking in the sun - Smooth Snake, Adders, Natterjack Toads, Common Frogs, Sand Lizard. The bird feeder by the Reptillary was the source of many sightings - Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Siskin, Blackbirds, Great Tits, Goldfinches. The exit from the Reptillary was over a camomile lawn and overhead was a Swallow, and over the trees a Buzzard. Through the meadow were many wonderful meadow plants - Common Spotted Orchid and sundew, along with Bog Pimpernel, Bog Myrtle, Bugle
, and Cross-leaved Heath.

We finished at the Knightwood Oak, said to be 600 years old, and Brian had photos of the tree 150 years ago, so we could see for ourselves the changes.

Common Spotted Orchid

(photos by Mary Mawdsley)

01 June 2017 Brockishill Green

On this bright, mild morning, 12 turned up for a walk through new territory near Bartley, some suffering from a late-night mothing hangover, or so they said. We ventured south via Nicholas Corner into pleasant, deciduous woodland just outside the eastern boundary of Brockishill Inclosure, leading eventually to a stream (on its way to Bartley Water) and footbridge near Little Stubby Hat.

Pluteus leoninus
Brief forays further east had defeated the leaders as paths petered out, so the return circular route north was, perforce, through the bleak, managed Inclosure.
Near the start, the track was open and flanked by damp ditches with several species of Ranunculus including Lesser Spearwort. Then our path wavered indistinctly through woodland and clearings; shade and bright sunshine. Bird sightings were few but we could hear Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, and found a ravaged shell of a Woodpigeon egg.

Beautiful Demoiselle - male
We came across Lesser Trefoil, Bog and Yellow Pimpernel, Tormentil, Foxglove, Bugle and Heath Spotted Orchid with a fine, tawny specimen of Pluteus leoninus on a fallen trunk. A few Speckled Wood, Brimstone and Large White butterflies bobbed about with even more elusive day-flying moths, and the brilliant turquoise of several Beautiful Demoiselle darting in and out of sunny patches above our heads. MW/SP